With the launch of my first self-published novel, THE PATRONS, I knew I wanted to do something pretty special for a kickoff. It began online (more on this component to come); but locally, I wanted to get everyone excited and give them a chance to enjoy the moment in an insider-y way. I know how you writers are, because I’m the same, you think, oh, I don’t want to make a fuss about myself, but you’d be thinking about it all wrong. People want to take part in a book launch party. It isn’t something that happens everyday, though us authors feel like it is because we are so inundated with market and peer research. Friends, readers, and the general public want to share your big day with you . . . and everyone they know (!); I worked this out when I saw the amazing social media sharing of the book and bash; I never would have assumed. Here are some pictures to prove it:
Convinced you’re not just annoying people yet? Okay, so let’s move on to how it was done. The planning started back in June. I have two kids under three, so not a lot happened right away. But eventually things got underway. Here were the key to-do list items:
- Order physical copies of The Patrons through CreateSpace. I shopped around and did all the difficult math (or maths if your Aussie). In my experience, Amazon’s CreateSpace really can offer the best deal for printing—especially if you are shipping to a far-flung place like QLD, Australia. The other consideration was that if you were printing on demand somewhere other than amazon, you had to pay the shipping for orders through amazon, too. I know people have reservations about giving amazon a monopoly on book sales, but authors have a difficult enough time making a living. Don’t cut off your main income stream. Instead, show some big investors that we can make money for them and that’s how viable competitors will come to market; that’s my view. Sure, digitally, one day I’ll work out how to get my price matching in order so I can see if I really can sell competitively across all platforms, but that requires time I don’t yet have.
- Get a professional invite printed. This one cost me $15 to have designed. Always provide visual examples of images/styles you like, with notes on exactly what it is you like about the look, for your graphic design projects. This will cut down on the number of drafts. I used Yocla Designs.
- Make it easy for people to pre-order the book, or buy it at the launch. Make sure you have change for cash purchases! Offer an incentive discount for pre-orders.
- Alert the media. A fun, glamorous night gets PR mileage by inviting media folk and gives them an excuse to cover you. Here’s some of my coverage: Townsville Bulletin, Northern Services Courrier, DUO.
- Make the evening glamorous and something to look forward to. My launch called for cocktail attire in black and white color theme. I knew my crowd loved an excuse to dress up and feel like a million bucks. It was perfect.
- Make the event feel professional. Hire (or ask a friend to act as) a bartender, door person, wait staff. Everyone you know is excellent at something; for example, one of my friends volunteered her services as DJ—her iTunes mix made the night, setting the whole tone. You’d be surprised how cheap and easy it is to hire a few hi-top tables; we even hired a red carpet and velvet rope!
- Organize, organize, organize! I know this doesn’t come natural to most of us creative folk; but you want to give the impression that you are the guest of honor, not someone ducking into the kitchen to check on the canapés, so this means a lot of time prepping, and running through a schedule, to make sure everything runs smoothly. It’s a lot of work, but worth it. For instance, to cut costs, I made my own food (there are a ton of awesome canapé ideas on my Pinterest board), and so I had to write out step-by-step directions beforehand for the cater-waiters on how to plate and present each item. Don’t get me wrong, it was a giant pain in the butt, but it was worth it. I didn’t step foot in the kitchen the whole night once guests started to arrive. If you’re looking for advice on how much liquor and food to serve, a great resource is Women’s Weekly Party Food + Drink.
- Make a speech/do a reading. I prefer speeches to readings, as I always felt readings had a strange, artificial quality to them as I performed. In my experience, people are dazzled to hear about the behind-the-scenes making of the book. Here’s a YouTube clip of my speech.
- Have a book-signing table. It’s a great way to get a chance to chat with everyone at the party and personalize their books.
Good luck with your launch! Please share any launch party tips here.